Sep 12 2013
"I believe this report fails to comprehend the reality of health care delivery in Kansas and across rural America. If implemented, these proposals would jeopardize the survival of many rural hospitals in our state and endanger Kansans' access to health care in their own communities."
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, said in a statement that he is opposed to recommendations regarding Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) suggested in the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report. The report proposes eliminating the CAH designation for any hospital participating in the CAH program in accordance with state “necessary provider” designations. Seventy-two of Kansas’ 83 CAHs could be impacted if Congress passes legislation implementing the report’s recommendations.
“I believe this report fails to comprehend the reality of health care delivery in Kansas and across rural America. If implemented, these proposals would immediately jeopardize the survival of CAHs and other rural hospitals in our state and endanger Kansans’ access to health care in their own communities,” Sen. Moran said. “Eliminating CAHs under the report’s proposals would trigger a chain reaction that would result in multiple hospitals suddenly facing substantial Medicare cuts and severe financial challenges. These hospitals comprise a significant component of Kansas’ health care safety net, and are essential to the survival and success of many Kansas communities.”
“The CAH program was created to address and strengthen the unique challenges rural health care providers face,” Sen. Moran continued. “It is vital that Kansans, health care providers and community leaders make this case to their elected officials in Washington to oppose any effort to enact these flawed proposals into law.”
The Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee has jurisdiction over funding for most agencies within HHS that impacts hospitals and other health care providers, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is the division of HHS responsible for administering Medicare and Medicaid. During subcommittee budget hearings the past two years, Sen. Moran has discussed with HHS Secretary Sebelius his concerns with policies the Administration has proposed that would disproportionately affect Kansas and other rural states by threatening the survival of many rural hospitals. In addition, Sen. Moran included language in the Senate FY2014 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill to encourage CMS to work with the HHS’ Office of Rural Health Policy on this issue to make certain rural patients maintain access to necessary health services.
The Administration’s FY2014 budget proposal seeks to cut Medicare reimbursements for all CAHs and completely eliminate the enhanced reimbursement many of these facilities receive for caring for an increasingly aging patient population across a wide area. Unfortunately, this OIG report follows the same faulty analysis based on technical mileage requirements, rather than focusing on the needs of individual rural communities.
Sen. Moran, along with 19 of his Senate colleagues, also recently contacted the Senate Finance Committee to express support for the CAH program, as well as concerns with the effects of the Administration’s budget proposals and the OIG report.
During Sen. Moran’s time in Congress, he has visited every community hospital in Kansas. The visits are extremely useful because they give him the opportunity to talk with Kansas health care providers and learn more about how they care for the residents of their communities.